Why I’m Writing a Memoir, Part 2

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetI’m reading a book about memoir writing called HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR, which a new writer friend named Jamie Krug recommended. In the book, Beth Kephart urges memoirists to have an articulate answer when someone ask “‘Why’d you want to write a memoir anyway?'”

I’ve already written on this topic, but here’s a new list to answer that salient question of WHY:

    • I’m writing so someone might feel less alone.
    • I’m writing to make sense of love, a word I’ve easily thrown around.
    • I’m writing because women’s voices need to be heard, especially on the subjects of sex and drinking and the sex that happens bc of drinking.
    • I’m writing to explore how technology has changed and how it affects our relationships.
    • I’m writing because I know somewhere right now on some college campus some girl is going through what I did.
    • I’m writing because we make stupid decisions when we are young, but we can learn from them.
    • I’m  strong not writing because I think my story is unique or special but because I think my story is too common but too untold.

This last sentence is the most important to me. I’ve read memoirs — a CHILD CALLED IT comes to mind — that shock me to my core, memoirs that explore a life so different from my own, memoirs that tell of extraordinary stories. My story is not a WILD or a GLASS CASTLE or the new-released MY STORY by Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped from her bedroom by knifepoint when she was 14.

In Kephart’s book, she also quotes one of my favorite writers Patricia Hampl: “True memoir is written, like all of literature, in an attempt to find not only a self but a world.” Then Kephart writes, “What world do you live in? And how will you bridge your world to mine? And what will you say when somebody asks you: What is your memoir about?

It’s an important question — one that writers, sometimes, hate to answer, I think. So, what’s your book about? Umm, how do I answer that in a sentence? But it’s a question I find myself asking other writers, too, even though it’s a question I despise myself. Perhaps, Kephart is right though; we better be able to defend our book even if that means summarizing it.

Kephart warns of the “pseudo memoirists” who will explain the specific personal event that sparked the book in the first place. Here’s a pseudo-synopsis of my book: My memoir is about a ten-year on-and-off-again relationship and how it affected me. Kephart writes, “The pseudos haven’t climbed out of their own small circles yet. The pseudos haven’t connected with the larger world, or their readers.”

I don’t want to be a pseudo. So, if you ask me, What’s your memoir about?

Here’s my answer: My memoir explores how our ideas of love change over time as we change — how sometimes the love you thought you needed is not love after all.

What’s your book about? Tell us in the comments!


Chapter 2 Edits

Chapter 2 is complete. For now. I'm traveling this weekend with my youngest son. Excited to take a break from this memoir. Monday, I move on to chapter 3, back in time, high school, the place I found love for the first time.

Chapter 2 is complete. For now. I’m traveling this weekend with my youngest son. Excited to take a break from this memoir. Monday, I move on to chapter 3, back in time, high school, the place I found love for the first time.

To see more Instagrams of my writing process for my memoir, please visit http://www.evelynalauer.com/instagraming-my-book/ or follow me on Instagram (@evelynalauer)

The moment is gone, my wedding | 19 June 2006

wedding-225x300I was too busy to write — which saddens me, and the moment is gone, my wedding — so beautiful and perfect and fun, my dream, just as I wanted it, and my unexpected nervousness and everyone there.

I really can’t describe how amazing it was, the whole weekend in my favorite place in the world. Mike is my husband, and I will hold him like an oak barrel holds wine and we will love this life together.

Mike and I move in less than 2 weeks, so that’s my project for this week and next. Then I go to Paris. Then I’m in Austin for a week or 2 and then I have to go to Mily/Chicago for Becky & Josie’s bachelorette parties. It’s a busy summer, and then, hopefully, in August I can write and submit poems until school begins and I have to start thinking about teaching again. It’s going to go by fast as it always does.

I carry the weight of you | 5 November 2006

Months. This journal has been in Milwaukee since Josie’s wedding — and sleeping next to Mike makes me write in this less.

Nothing new. School, teaching, trying to write poems. How I want to. Eleanor Wilner is in town. I’ve spent the past two days driving her around. Poet’s notice things. They tell you what they see. Describe in interesting ways — “the birds are doing their sunset swirl.” I dream of being like them. If only …


I carry the weight of you — writing about you might get me no where.

To leave the beloved behind…

Welcome to First Page Last

My First Journal

My First Journal


I just moved all my posts over here to try to connect to other bloggers more. I’m blogging 30 years of journal writing as I work on a memoir about love, loss, and letting go. If that sounds interesting to you, follow me because I’d love to follow you.

Here is my first post (originally published 2/27/83):

On February 27, 1983 — a week shy of my seventh birthday — I started my first journal, a lock-and-key diary of the Little Twin Stars from the Hello Kitty series. Even with the lock, my younger sister still found her way into its pages, but her snooping never stopped my writing.

Now – five days shy of my 37th birthday — I begin my 18th journal.

Here’s the catch: Instead of revealing my entries chronologically from 1983 to now, I’m telling my story in reverse order, beginning today as an almost 37-year-old teacher/writer with a husband and two sons. Each day, I will release a new (old) journal entry until I get to that memorable day on Feb. 27 in 1983 when something significant happened in my seven-year-old world — something diary-worthy.

So began my journey as a writer. How did I get here? Read my journals — backward — and find out!

NOTE: I am now on 2007, so there is plenty of back material to read. Hope you stay awhile!

To read more about me.

To read more about this project.

My top-five most popular posts

  1. “On Turning 25”
  2. “Life in Your 20s vs. Your 30s”
  3. “Life in Your 20s vs. Your 30s Redux”
  4. “Why I Cut My Hair Short”
  5. “On Having Boys When I Wanted Girls”

Why I’m Writing a Memoir

photo-24So, I’m working on a memoir, a memoir about relationships and sex and love, a memoir about letting people go to let other people in.

Last night, listening to Pete Yorn’s “On Your Side,” I wrote chapter 16, set in November-December 2004.

This morning while making AJ breakfast, I played the same song via YouTube because it was stuck in my head. I picked up AJ and danced with him — as I often do — cheek to cheek to this song that I used to listen to on dark nights when I was in dark places, all alone.

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